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Title: The effects of severe global deprivation on language and cognition
Author: Brown, Lisa Jane
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2004
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The impetus for this research derives largely from the need to understand the course of human ontogenetic development in abnormal circumstances. The specific focus of the research is the emergence of language and cognition and social and communicative behaviour in children who have suffered extreme global deprivation at an early age. The crucial research issue, however, concerns the extent to which normal language acquisition is still possible given an initial environment that is largely language-less and lacking in social stimulation and interaction. In the early 1990s, thousands of cases of children brought up in the unprecedented neglect of Romanian childcare institutions were discovered. Many were internally adopted. This thesis describes an in-depth, exploratory investigation of a small number of these children, whose development after adoption was monitored for two years. A range of research methods was used including interviews, observation, standardized tests and detailed qualitative analyses. Some degree of developmental catch-up has been reported for previously institutionalised Romanian children who were adopted before the age of six months (Rutter et al., 1998). However, the children in this study were adopted around or after the age of 4 years, and it is suggested here that, even at this late age, developmental outcome is not fixed. The findings of this study are: 1.) extreme global deprivation appears to lead to global retardation, but, if the deprived environment is replaced by a stimulating one, then developmental gains can be achieved; 2.) the effects of extreme deprivation are neither permanent nor irreversible, and for example, the grammar of spontaneous speech and conversational ability develop apparently normally; 3.) the linguistic development of severely deprived children does not provide evidence of a critical period for first language acquisition; 4.) cases of severely deprived children do not provide evidence of a dissociation between language and non-verbal cognition.
Supervisor: Stackhouse, Joy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available